My dearest Livi…
I wanted to write this little story for you…it’s the account of your all-too-short-life with us…
You were due to be born on July 27th, 2003. We had a wonderful 9 months together as we both grew…our bodies and our love…On July 22nd, I celebrated my 38th birthday here at home, with your dad, my parents, a dear friend, Alex and you my little monster, dancing inside me. Dad barbequed and we all played in the pool, enjoying the afternoon sun. You were kicking up a storm and I felt such joy and love…it was the happiest birthday of my life.
The following day, your dad and I went to our appointment with Constance, where your heart was heard, unbeknown to us, for the last time. We left the appointment knowing that soon we would meet you, although we never thought it would be as it was…That evening your dad did a bellycast of our roundness and it came out beautiful…
You had not moved since our appointment. I think back as to why I didn’t rush to the hospital then, but the only answer I have is that deep down I knew you were gone and I didn’t want to have my worst fears confirmed. I am sorry.
The following morning your dad and I went back to Constance’s office, and after an ultrasound, it was confirmed. Your heart was no longer beating. You fell silent inside me some time on July 23rd.
Your dad and I were inconsolable. How could this happen? How could this happen to us…the three of us. We were so happy…we had such dreams for our family…you were just kicking me…you had hiccups…how could you go? I had such a wonderful pregnancy…I did everything right…took my vitamins, relaxed, excercised, ate my veggies…HOW COULD YOU HAVE DIED?
It was all a dream…wasn’t it? This only happens to other people. Your dad, you and I didn’t deserve this.
After a few days, the numbness started lifting and the realization that all those questions asked above would never be answered became our reality. It didn’t matter. You were gone.
On Friday, July 25th we went to see a Perinatalogist…he did an amnio to remove some of the fluid you had been swimming in for all those months…to see if tests could determine what had happened to you. We scheduled your birth for the following day. I would be induced at Tacoma General Hospital in the morning.
We arrived at the hospital around 7 a.m. We hadn’t slept much those past few days…I have to tell you Livi, that when I got pregnant with you, I did so much reasearch and reading about pregancy and birth. At first I always thought that I would deliver in the hospital, drugged to no end as I still had that video in my head from highschool sex education class where the mother is giving birth and all she does is scream bloody murder…I vowed that if I ever had children, I would NOT go through that. Well, I’m glad to tell you that after some growing up, I decided that giving birth to you was going to be just beautiful and that you and I would have a loving and wonderful experience…after all how could bringing such a little peanut into life not be a lovely experience?
Your dad, who I must say is so incredibly amazing and patient and loving let me decide what I wanted for your birth. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to birth you here in our home. I envisioned cooking up a feast for the day…some roasted vegetables, lots of fresh fruit, bake you a birthday cake and drink Champagne…we would rent a birthing tub and maybe give birth to you in water if that felt right. Your aunties Lupe and Gigi were invited and aside from your dad and I, two of our midwives would be here. I pictured music and sunshine and incredible happiness.
As it happened, our insurance wouldn’t cover a home birth, so we opted for the second best choice, which was giving birth to you at THE BIRTHING INN, in Tacoma. It was a lovely place and also full of sun and warmth…yes, that would do.
As I entered the hospital on Saturday morning, I was feeling so sad. This was exactly what I didn’t want for us. To be induced and to be in a hospital. Irony would surround us for days Livi.
They took us into a room, and it had no windows. It was an ugly room. I cried. I didn’t say anything to the nurse, as I made the erroneous assumption that if there was a better room, a room with sunlight, that they would have given it to us…after all, they already knew you had died, and maybe they would try to make this painful experience we were about to embark on less so by giving us a nice room. The nurse asked me to put on the gown and she would be back later to check me. I undressed and put on the gown. Backwards…so it was open in the front…so there would be easy access to my chest and heart after you were born. She came back into the room and advised me that my gown was on backwards. I said, “I know”. She said, “You can’t wear it like that…we can see you.”, (by which she meant my nakedness I assume…) I said this is how I wanted to wear it and she insisted that I change. I decided this was not a battle I was willing to have…everything sucked. I changed.
When she left, your dad and I cried so hard…this was all so wrong…so painful…I couldn’t even wear the gown the way I wanted…Could things get any worse?
When she came back into the room, she saw us sobbing and I said to her, “You know, this just wasn’t what I pictured Livi’s birth to be…in a hospital…no windows even…” and then she said, “Do you want me to see if there is a room with a window in it?” and I said "Yes...please…"
We were then led down the hallway lit by flourescent lights and came around a corner and this HUGE BEAM OF SUNLIGHT came through the open door…I have never seen so much light. The nurse had given us the best and biggest room….and from that moment on I knew it would be OK…I had in this most horrible time in my life found a smile on my face. You would be born in sunlight.
We were soon visited by the doctors. They were very nice and said, “Amalia, this is all for you…whatever you need, you let us know.”
They gave me a little pill which they placed in my vagina…I can’t remember the name…Cytosomething…it’s an ulcer medication that apparently helps dialate the cervix and get contractions going. I have to tell you how ridiculous your mother is…I thought I would take the pill at 8 a.m. and that “POOF” you’d be born by noon. Little did I know…
Six hours later, I had dialated to 1 cm. We were then visited by the whole family…Your maternal grandpa, who you would call Atachi or something like that…it’s Basque for something…I assume grandfather, but knowing my father, it could be anything from “Frog to Great Wise One…” who knows…anyway, grandma was there also, in a beautiful red shirt…Your aunties Lupe and Gigi were there also..see they made it to your birth…all of them.
As the day progressed, we didn’t…at least in birthing language…I don’t know if you didn’t want to come out or if I didn’t want to let you go. But there you stayed. The hours passed and at some point our resident doctor Bryan something came in with the news we hoped we wouldn’t hear…the head honcho who was actually in charge of us wanted things to “move along” and therefor I basically had 2 options…I could begin with the big drugs…(Pitocin followed by the dreaded Epidural) or I could go home and labor at my leisure until we made “good” progress. I hated both options. Your dad and I couldn’t understand the rush…was there a line forming outside the hospital doors of women with crossed legs waiting for a room to open up in the Birth Unit? On the one hand there was this rush to get things going and on the other hand we could just go home and wait for days until we went into labor on our own? It made no sense. Well after a 45 minute discussion that was getting us no-where…we found a compromise…we would wait a couple more hours, until midnight and then I would be ready for the Pitocin…and that’s what happened. At midnight the drip was started…the nurses who were absolutely wonderful started a very small amount flowing into our bodies…the contractions came immediately but they were bearable.
As the hours passed, we all sat there in semi-darkness…I only remember one light on, right above the sink. I sat on the birthing ball, your dad in front of me, Constance and Kimberly always near by. Around 4 a.m. the pain was getting worse and I wasn’t sure if I could continue…I was checked at some point and we had dialated to 5 cm, so things were working. I listened to some lovely music as I tried to bear the contractions…and then I asked for some help…maybe a narcotic that would allow me to continue with out knocking me out and making me numb…? I was given something for the next hour and a half but sweetie, it didn’t help at all…I was dying. The pain was so great…I felt my insides being ripped apart. I screamed and cried.
The Epidural was administered at 6 a.m. and the relief was immediate. I now felt peace again. You dad climbed into bed with me and we slept. The three of us slept embraced together for one last time.
At 8 a.m. the nurses and doctors came in. Everything was going great…I was dialated and now we just had to begin pushing. I didn’t want to yet. I asked Constance what would happen if we didn’t do anything, and she said that you would begin making your way down the birth canal and that eventually you would be born. I asked her if there was any danger if we just sat back and let you come out on your own…and she said no, that that would be fine. So that’s what we did…I laid in bed as time passed. I asked that the curtains remained closed, although the venetian blinds behind were slated open allowing this wonderful light in…time passed and I felt so much love and peace. I will never forget that day Livi. Slowly I began feeling you descend. I think the nurses turned down the Epidural so I could feel more…for which I am grateful. As I began to bear down, I remember feeling so happy…
Constance could see your little head…“She has so much hair” she said and we all laughed. We called in the nurses and doctors and in they came. The doctor said, “Now Amalia, let’s get you on your back”, (I was on my side) and I said calmly, “Uh, no.” He said “OK…then how about we break down the bed…(which I think means that they get the stirrups out and stuff…) and I said, “Uh, no…” and he said “OK – then how about we turn the lights on?” and I said, “…No..” and that my dearest is how you came into this world…there in this lovely hospital room, with lovely soft light, with your mother completely naked, (the gowns had long been thrown off… your father said to the nurses as they were preparing to get me into another gown…“Just leave her naked…that’s how she always is” and they did….
I smiled with every push Livi…I felt you…I felt your head come through me…slowly…I pushed so softly sweetie…I loved you and every moment of your birth…After your little head came out then they said, “Just a few more pushes and she’ll be here…” I so didn’t want to push Livi…I didn’t want to let you go…
You were born at 12:50 p.m. on Sunday July 27th, 2003…your due date. You weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and you measured 20.5 inches. You were so incredibly beautiful. You were immediately laid on my chest, your father cut the cord that was our connection. He was so happy to meet you. We both gently cleansed your little frail body. You were so fragil…so adorable…you had one eye open and you looked into my eyes…We kissed you and took you in as everyone left the room…
All your family came in to meet you…even your grandma Mary and aunt Julie that had flown in that morning and were there for your birth. I have lots of pictures of you with them…
We spent 7 hours with you that day. After everyone left, your dad, you and I spent quiet time together. We held you and kissed you. It was all too short my sweetie. Too short.
Your father put you into the isolette where they would take you away. It was a very painful and sad moment to let you go…This wasn’t what we wanted Livi…we had dreamed of such joy together Livi…I always imagined you laughing and dancing. I hope you are doing that now, wherever you may be my love.
We went back to the hospital on Tuesday to spend some time with you. Your dad and I held you as did our friend Patti, who came to meet you. You were beautiful…your little hands so pink…your little nose so little.
An autopsy was done the following day…we don’t know the results yet. We are sorry that you went through that.
We had a little memorial celebration for you on Sunday, August 3rd at dad and Jeri’s house. Livi, it was a beautiful day…your grandpa made lots of delicious food…grandma Jeri made everything look so lovely…the tables…the flowers…I baked you a big birthday cake and your dad recorded our favorite music for you.
Many friends came to your birthday party Livi. They brought with them so much love…laughter and tears…Oh Livi you were so loved…you are so loved…and so missed…We made a little altar for you…Chris printed some pictures we had taken of your hands, your father’s hands and mine together…we framed your little dancing footprints…we had your little hand print in plaster…I picked a bouquet of flowers from our garden…the garden you were supposed to play in…your aunt Kate brought you a beautiful White Lily and beautiful peach/pink roses…Victoria made a little gift for you…a little nest with a beautiful rock in the middle…Elizabeth brought you Lavender and Snapdragons from her garden…your uncle Pete carved little flowers out of veggies!!!! Wow! Wendy gave me a little prayer box to wear around my neck…it was an incredible gift as it was exactly what I wanted…I carry in it a lock of your hair and little piece of bone from your little body…you are close to my heart. We had readings from the Prophet and then your friends and family had a chance to speak…Oh the things they said Livi…letters were written to you…stories were read…
I was so overwhelmed peanut…you touched so many peoples lives and hearts…did I tell you how proud I am to be your mom?
I will never forget your party Livi. I will never let go of all the love given to the three of us that day.
On Monday your dad and I woke up knowing that this day would be the last day we could hold your little body in our arms..and gaze at your little face…your little nose. We went to the Funeral Home, the one down the street from our house…We were led into a nice little room…your dad brought your music…you were handed to us one last time. We held you and held you and took a zillion more photos…we spent over an hour with you and then we knew we had to let you go. We walked back to the place where you would be cremated…we are sorry we didn’t stay. Livi, we had every intention to, but it was just too painful.
I want you to know that soon we will get a Dwarf Japanese Maple Tree that we will plant in a large beautiful pot, with a little bit of your umbilical cord that we brought home with us from the hospital and some of your ashes…I need to have something of you that I can take care of for the rest of my life…it is my understanding that these beautiful trees live for many many years…and I look forward to having you here with us for the rest of our lives.
Livi, know that your dad and I are well. We don’t understand what happened…why you left or were taken away. We just know that you are so loved and will be missed everyday of our lives, but we want to thank you for all the joy and happiness you have brought us.
We love you. Goodbye little Livi. May you be dancing above us for eternity.